Settle: Ollie Tyler’s incumbency a big advantage in Shreveport mayor race

Shreveport mayor wannabes need to accept a cold hard political fact: Incumbents have a major advantage over challengers.

And it’s no different with Shreveport Mayor Ollie Tyler.

Currently, Adrian Perkins, Lee O. Savage, Jim Taliaferro, Ray Smith and John Paul Young have said they will qualify for the mayoral election.

From Tyler’s perspective, the more the merrier.

She starts with a strong residual base from her slam dunk victory in the 2014 runoff. And despite some leakage in support, she still is in the catbird’s seat.

Despite the constant complaints about crime, Tyler has an almost overwhelming arsenal of political pluses.

She has name recognition. She is probably better known to Shreveport voters than all of the other announced candidates collectively.

As mayor, raising money for her re-election campaign will not be that difficult. Practically every company that does business with the Shreveport will feel compelled to contribute to her re-election campaign. And so will the political appointees that Tyler has made in the last three-plus years.

Much like her recent press conferences for a three-year progress report and the grant for Shreveport Common, Tyler can generate positive publicity virtually any time she so chooses.

Additionally, she can closet herself from the negative press by not being available.

Political spin is also very easy for an incumbent.

After the crime summit with Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator, her comments praised Shreveport police officers and the spirit of cooperation.

Tyler’s administrative staff of Africa Price, director of public relations and communications; Arlena Acree, director of economic development and film; and Tari Bradford, executive assistant for governmental affairs; and others cannot actively work for the re-election of their boss. However their efforts promoting the accomplishments of the Tyler as mayor have the same practical effect.

The same is true for the staff of Chief Administrative Officer Brian Crawford, and to some extent, City Attorney Will Bradford.

Political patronage begins the first day an elected official takes office. Re-election has been high on Tyler’s agenda since she moved into City Hall in late 2013.

And like any well-established politician, Tyler likes her surroundings. Undoubtedly she will pull out all the political stops to stay at government plaza for another four years.

To those seeking to unseat Tyler, good luck! It will be a hard mountain to climb that should not be underestimated.

Tyler’s pinnacle seat is a major advantage that is almost impossible to overcome.

John Settle is a Shreveport-Bossier based political columnist